The college football schedule has absorbed its biggest hit to date from COVID-19 spending this week, meaning the ESPN week 11 power rankings barely moved.
The SEC alone had postponed four games, and five of the top six teams in the power rankings last week either had open dates or games were canceled / postponed due to coronavirus. A total of 12 teams in last week’s power rankings did not play this week.
Florida jumped up to sixth after leaving 593 yards of total insult and racing past Arkansas on Saturday for a 63-35 blowout win. The Gators have scored 148 points in the last three games since losing to Texas A&M on October 10th.
The postponement of the LSU game due to COVID-19 issues within the LSU program results in the Crimson Tide being turned off for two weeks in a row. Their offensive was certainly not bad, however, as they rank third nationwide (47.2 points per game) and Redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones is giving the Heisman Trophy a strong boost. Jones has passed 2,196 yards in six games with 16 touchdowns and two interceptions and executed 78.5% of his throws.
Next: Kentucky (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
After falling 10-3 in the first quarter on Saturday, Notre Dame skipped any chance of suffering from a Clemson hangover – after beating the senior Tigers a week ago – and retired from Boston College in a 45-31 road win . It’s the second time in three years that Notre Dame has started an 8-0 season. The Irish started 2018 12-0 before losing 3-3 to Clemson in the College Football Playoffs semifinals. The Irish have now won 14 straight games, the nation’s longest active winning streak among FBS teams.
Next: in North Carolina (Nov. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Ian Book builds on his great performance against Clemson as he scored three touchdowns and ran for another in Notre Dame’s win over Boston College.
The Buckeyes’ game in Maryland on Saturday was canceled after the Terrapins suspended all football activities last week due to an increased number of COVID-19 cases. While the state of Ohio has an extra week to prepare for Indiana’s visit, the Buckeyes also need games to qualify for the Big Ten championship game and to get involved in the college football playoffs. In three games, Ohio State was one of the most formidable teams in the country.
Next: Indiana (Saturday, Noon ET, Fox)
The Tigers were absent this week after losing four hours overtime at Notre Dame a week earlier, ending their regular-season winning streak with 36 games. The good news for Clemson is that star quarterback Trevor Lawrence should be back. And if the Tigers get another shot at Notre Dame in the ACC championship game, he should be on the line-up for that showdown. In the meantime, Clemson’s main priority will be tightening up the defense.
Next: in Florida State (Saturday, noon ET, ABC)
Just as the Aggies were starting to play their best football, they were derailed by COVID-19 issues, particularly contact tracing logs. Their game on Saturday in Tennessee has been postponed. That was after Texas A&M won four straight wins and scored over 40 points in three of those competitions. The Aggies need to be impressive all the way and play as many games as possible if they are to sneak into the college football playoffs without playing the SEC championship game.
Next: Ole Miss (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
If anyone in the SEC is going to beat Alabama this season, Florida may be the only team with the offensive firepower that can do it. The Gators and Kyle Trask just kept mowing through the teams as they carved Arkansas 63-35 apart on Saturday night. Trask threw six more touchdown passes and has scored at least four goals in all six Florida competitions this season. The Gators will be big favorites in all four remaining regular season games.
Next: at Vanderbilt (lunch ET, ESPN / SEC network)
What a ride this has been for the Cougars who seem to be gaining momentum every week. With an open date this week, they have two more games to finish the season 10-0 and get themselves in the best position for a New Years six-bowl game. BYU were one of the most entertaining teams in college football, scoring over 40 points in seven of their eight games. Quarterback Zach Wilson has made 30 touchdowns and is a name to see in the Heisman Trophy race.
Next: v North Alabama (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
The Bearcats just keep winning and just keep making it look. They built a 35:10 lead at halftime on Friday night and then scored a 55:17 win over East Carolina. Cincinnati has won all seven games this season by at least two touchdowns, and in the last five games, 21 people have come closest to the Bearcats. Junior quarterback Desmond Ridder recorded his fourth straight game with one touchdown and one quick touchdown, tied for the longest run by any FBS player this season.
Next: at UCF (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC / ESPN)
The Hoosiers played their first game as the AP top 10 team since 1969 on Saturday and looked at home in a 24-0 shutout against Michigan State. Indiana has won five of its last six Big Ten street competitions dating back to last season and once again Michael Penix Jr. and Ty Fryfogle were off. Penix passed for 320 yards and Fryfogle caught 11 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. The Hoosiers game in Ohio on Saturday will be the biggest in decades.
Next: in Ohio State (Saturday, noon ET, Fox)
The Hurricanes will not drive smoothly in the ACC race and will battle it out for a 25:24 win at Virginia Tech on Saturday after being 11 points behind in the third quarter. Quarterback D’Eriq King ran for one touchdown and passed for another, and Miami have won four straight times since losing 42:17 to Clemson on October 10. The Hurricanes need Clemson or Notre Dame to be upset and have a shot at the ACC championship, but they are finding ways to win games and have prevailed in the last three with a total of nine points.
Next: Georgia Tech (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
D’Eriq King joined forces with Mark Pope late in the game for a key touchdown in Miami’s 25:24 win over Virginia Tech.
The Badgers finally got back on the field and in their first game since October 23, they shredded Michigan in a 49:11 street frenzy on Saturday night. Wisconsin, which took a 28-0 lead at halftime, prolonged the Wolverines’ misery (Jim Harbaugh’s club is now 3-1) and only reiterated that the Badgers will be a major factor in the Big Ten if they keep going can avoid COVID-19 problems. Wisconsin devastated Michigan on the border, rushing 341 meters, compared to the Wolverines’ 47 meters on the ground.
Next: in the northwest (Saturday, TBA)
Saturday’s Bulldogs game in Missouri was postponed due to a combination of positive COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and subsequent quarantine of people within the Missouri program. After losing two of their last three games, Georgia can’t get back on the field soon enough, and the big question in Athens is whether the Southern California transfer of JT Daniels will get a shot at the quarterback.
Next: Mississippi State (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
The Chanticleers game in Troy on Saturday was postponed due to a combination of positive COVID-19 tests and injuries from the Troy program. The chants had hoped to be the first Sun Belt Conference team in history to start a season 8-0. Their home game this Saturday against Appalachian State will likely decide the East Division championship in the Sun Belt.
Next: Appalachian State (Saturday, noon ET, ESPN2 / ESPNU)
After falling 19-7 at the end of the second quarter, Oregon caught fire in the second half. Quarterback Tyler Shough threw three of his four touchdown passes after the break to lead the Ducks to a 43:29 win in Washington state on Saturday. The junior, who ran back CJ Verdell, hurried more than 100 meters for the second game in a row. Oregon has scored 78 points on its first two inclines.
Next: UCLA (Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The cowboys have been absent this week, preparing for the Bedlam showdown with Oklahoma in Norman on Saturday. The blueprint was a little different for Mike Gundy’s club this season. Only once in six games have the Oklahoma State defense allowed more than 21 points, and that one time was a 41-34 overtime loss to Texas two weeks ago. Three of the last four Cowboys games are on the way.
Next: in Oklahoma (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
The Cyclones had this week off, and their home loss to Louisiana between 31 and 14 at the start of the season looks a little more puzzling every week. Their only other loss was a 24:21 setback against Oklahoma State on October 24th. Now they’re half a game ahead of the top of the Big 12 standings. In many ways, the trip to Texas in two weeks could be a game for a spot in the Big 12 championship game, though the state of Kansas might have something to say about it this Saturday.
Next: Kansas State (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, Fox)
The Sooners had Saturday off and had an extra week to prepare for Oklahoma State’s annual Bedlam Showdown. It’s been a roller coaster ride in the Big 12 race so far, and Oklahoma could get well at the right time. The Sooners have won four straight wins after losing two to Kansas State and Iowa State, scoring 210 points in those wins.
Next: Oklahoma State (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Southern California sure makes it interesting in two games. The Trojans won tense for the second straight week on Saturday, running for the all-important touchdown in the final minute and a half to beat Arizona 34-30 on the road. That’s after two touchdowns in the final three minutes to a week to get a 28:27 win past Arizona State. It wasn’t nice, but as USC coach Clay Helton said, the Trojans are 2-0 and many teams would love to be in that position.
Next: in Utah (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Kedon Slovis develops two clutch touchdown rides late in the fourth quarter as the Trojans improve to 2-0 with a 34:30 win over Arizona.
Liberty rewarded Hugh Freeze with a lucrative contract extension last week, and Freeze rewards the Flames with their best season in school history. They went 8-0 on Saturday with a 58:14 demolition from Western Carolina, when quarterback Malik Willis was responsible for five touchdowns. Liberty will try to beat ACC opponents 3-0 against NC State this Saturday. The Flames have already beaten Virginia Tech and Syracuse this season.
Next: in NC state (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ACC RSN)
For a change, Louisiana decided to remove one team early. Having come from behind in its six previous wins, Louisiana led it 38-10 at home against South Alabama on Saturday. The Ragin ‘Cajuns’ only flaw this season was a narrow 30:27 loss to the undefeated Coastal Carolina on October 14th. Now, four wins later, they are in great shape to take another Coastal Carolina goal in the Sun Belt Conference championship game.
Next: Central Arkansas (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN +)
The thundering herd stayed among the undefeated on Saturday with a 42-14 win over Middle Tennessee. Marshall’s defense stifled this season. The herd has not yet let an opponent race 100 meters, and they have not dropped more than 17 points in any of their seven wins. On the offensive, Redshirt newcomer Grant Wells plays his best football. He has thrown 12 touchdown passes in his last four games.
Next: Charlotte (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Networks)
The last time the Wildcats were 4-0 in the Big Ten was in 1996, when current coach Pat Fitzgerald was still playing for the Wildcats. Well, 24 years later, they’re back after holding Purdue 27-20 on the street on Saturday and signal caller Peyton Ramsey threw three touchdown passes to Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman. The Northwest Defense also did their part with a couple of late stops to set up one of the Wildcats’ biggest home games in years against Wisconsin this Saturday.
Next: Wisconsin (Saturday, TBA)
Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman caught an 18-yard touchdown to tie the game and a second 5-yard touchdown against Purdue.
The last time the Tigers played was on October 31, when they beat up LSU 48-11. Her street game against the state of Mississippi on Saturday has been postponed due to positive COVD-19 tests and subsequent quarantines under the Mississippi state program. Auburn gets Tennessee at home this Saturday, but then comes a daunting two-game stretch against Alabama on the road and Texas A&M at home.
Next: Tennessee (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
At least five teams, including Texas, are still alive in the Big 12 race. The Longhorns were gone this week after winning three in a row. Their two defeats were heartbreaking – a 53:45 loss in four overtime to Oklahoma and a 33:31 loss to the TCU – though they’ve defended better lately. Two of their last three games are underway, but the winning matchup will be at home against Iowa State on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Next: in Kansas (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Tulsa has had to shuffle its schedule repeatedly this season due to COVID-19 issues, but the Golden Hurricane has held out as much as any team in college football. They are now in the best position to play for the American Athletic Conference championship after beating SMU 28-24 on Saturday after a 24-hour half-time deficit. Only once this season has Tulsa played for two straight weeks, but the Golden Hurricane has won four straight games and they could face Cincinnati twice – in the regular season finals and then again in the AAC championship game.
Next: Tulane (Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)